Sunday, 10 August 2008

Lars And The Real Girl

By Nancy Oliver.

Every time I read a professional screenplay more than often I'm amazed and naturally inspired. But in the case of Lars And The Real Girl, the word is: 'Stunned.'

I've never read a more tragic, moving, funny and original screenplay in my life, and I can't imagine one ever coming close.

I don't think I could distil its essence or summarise its greatness in anyway, so I won't try to. But what I love about it, is - its simplicity and subtlety.

It's such a welcome to have a screenplay that when it begins, doesn't reply on masses of dialogue, description or action, and doesn't try to go out of its way to hit you in the face and hook you in with natural and obvious 'set ups' of characters and events.

The genius of the opening of Lars is in its subtlety and intrigue. Mystery may be more appropriate. It kept you wanting to know more about the main character and his situation, and ultimately, what the story is all about. It was nice that it isn't heavy on dialogue either (or action for that matter) and is the better for it. The characters were vivid and believable and you really felt like you were in the story with them. It's hard to explain its greatness, but moving on...

The story is potentially kind of strange but like the characters in the story they play along with the situation, ultimately to help Lars and in return we as the reader also take on that responsibility by reading on.

There are good people out there...

...and we're reminded of that. It's really nice to see and on however we viewed the story, we are potentially, a good person and we're reminded of that too.

I don't know anything about the author, Nancy Oliver at the moment, or if this is her first screenplay or not. At a guess i'd say it is. But only because the screenplay appears to have been written on a typewriter (or some free script-ware) and strays a little from the conventional professional screenplay format. But somehow it works to its advantage and adds to its charm, which I think is remarkable.

The opening section is one of the most amazing I've read and partly because of the moment the author chose to enter on in the story. We weren't given the 'usual' and 'obvious' characters that were simply set up as their function in the story and a major 'event' or 'indication' to the story. It felt like we were mid-way into something and therefore were a little out of sync. This made it all the more realistic and intriging because you want to catch up and know what's going on. But once you get the smallest indication or info on the situation and Lars, you just know that 'this is it.' There's no putting this thing down and it's going to be unlike a journey you've ever had. And by the end, you won't be the same person as when you first picked up the screenplay.

That's how it felt to me, anyway. And you can't ask for a better experience than that.

A few comments on format: (And note: I'm not mocking it.)

In some instances, the rule 'show don't tell' - was broken quite a few times. But it actually read better and I can't imagine the screenplay without them now. The experience just wouldn't be the same.

I won't ruin any of the story, but some of my favoures of format simplicity and potential errors, are: in the opening when establishing a house and a garage. The house or garage wasn't described at all and the word 'Establishing' was in place of the description, on both consecutive occasions. At first I thought, 'What? Can you do that?' I guess it wasn't a specific type of house or anything. Just what you saw.

Not knowing Lars' age first of when he's introduced was an unconventional moment and for me, I became a little frustrated because I wanted to be able to visualise him. I had a rough idea of his age and it soon became apparent. But while I was wondering and partly frustrated at not knowing his age- I was still reading on and was even more intrigued. Then when I got it I was thankful, which was a nice device, if intended.

Another format favourite is later on with another slug line of a house later and in the description one word sat in front of a line of white space: 'Rain.'

But I've got nothing bad to say about this screenplay and I'm in complete awe and admiration for its writer. I can't wait to read the follow-up and hope that it's as every bit as different and incredible as Lars And The Real Girl.

But first things first: I have to see the film!

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